Jimmy Carrane Stand-Up

Just Do It

We are told improv is great for finding your voice. Everyone who markets improv uses that phrase, but until recently, I really didn’t know what people meant by it.

And surprisingly, I am learning this through another art form — storytelling.

After a bit of break, I am back to doing storytelling and I am really loving it. It’s taken years to apply what I’ve learned in improv and to my storytelling, and I can tell it’s working because I am having fun.

I’ve realized that the telling of story is more important than memorizing the piece word for word. Instead, I need to make the connection with the audience and listen to them like I would to my scene partner.

What’s taken me so long to learn is that if you want to find your voice, you have to put yourself out there in all of your imperfection. You cannot plan out your voice like you cannot plan out your next improv scene. It happens by doing it — that’s the secret ingredient in all of this.

You will not find it from talking about it.

You will not find it by over-analyzing your last show or class.

You will find it by doing the work and putting it out there.

If you are a writer you write to find your voice. If you are an actor, you act. If you are a photographer you need to take pictures. If you are an improviser, you need to improvise on a regular basis.

Take classes, look forward to going to rehearsal with your group, and most importantly, do mother fucking shows.

When you are starting out and trying to find your voice, it’s not about quality, it’s about quantity. The quality part will come later.

Just put yourself out there on a regular basis, and then, when you least expect it, your voice will emerge. The sky will part and your confidence will move mountains.

You maybe unaware of this yourself. That’s totally normal. Your teammates, teachers and directors will definitely let you know that your voice has emerged. Some people will be threatened by it. Others will be blown away by it. Beware, for better or worse, you will get attention — the thing we craved in the first place. And that may be uncomfortable. You may have strong feelings of wanting to die. (True story). Get used to it and know these are all signs your voice is getting stronger and more clear, and that is a good thing, not only for you, but for everyone you work with and everyone who comes and sees you perform.

Your voice is your gift to the world. So, let’s not waste any more time and get to it.*

* This line was for me. If it helps you great, but this is what I need to hear.

Need help finding your voice on stage? Check out Jimmy’s next Intro to the Art of Slow Comedy Workshop, happening Oct. 13. Sign up by Sept. 29 to save!

4 replies
  1. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I have been getting into storytelling lately–I’ve pretty much given up on improv because I’m never making a team here. At least storytelling is catching on more and I don’t have to have others helping me to do it, other than getting stage time. So I am pretty excited about it. I admit my favorite part of Harold-ing was the story part!

    I have vaguely debated going to my old improv school and suggesting they start doing storytelling, but I dunno, I don’t think there’s the interest even if they are related.

  2. Christer Larsson
    Christer Larsson says:

    Jimmy, thanks! So true, and so useful. Do the thing you want to do. And, then, and this is where I’m at, do it with a bit of greater purpose, with a bit more ownership and preparedness. Sure, Improv needs to be improvised, life, on the other hand, could use a bit of the added ingredients of intention, planfulness, and goal setting. I like to think of it as being an adult about life (without clearing out playfulness, spontaneity, and improvisation). (Have you noticed that there’s only one letter difference between the words “playfulness” and “planfulness”?).


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